Dr Roy named Cayman’s new national hero

| 27/01/2016
Cayman News Service

Dignitaries and government officials at National Heroes Day ceremony

(CNS): The Cayman Islands has a new national hero, Dr Roy Edison McTaggart, who joins the ranks of eight previous honourees, including the only living recipient, Sybil McLaughlin. The posthumous award was announced Monday, 25 January, as part of the annual National Heroes Day celebrations, which focused on honouring those who have contributed to agriculture.

More than 300 farmers also received awards, some posthumously, for their contributions to farming in the categories of early pioneer, pioneer, emerging pioneer, memorial scroll and long-service award.

In naming McTaggart, who died in 1983, a national hero, Premier Alden McLaughlin called him a “pioneer in the development of a modern Cayman Islands”, pointing out that among his accomplishments, he erected the first four-storey building; was the country’s first dentist; was a pioneer in tourism; founded the Cayman Weekly newspaper; was a member of the legislative assembly; was a philanthropist; and was president of the Chamber of Commerce.

“Yet he is perhaps best remembered as the man who helped ensure the Cayman Islands remained a British Crown Colony when Jamaica chose independence in 1962,” McLaughlin said. “At a time when Britain gave us the choice to go with Jamaica, Dr Roy opposed the move and stood firm in the face of local opposition.

“…Governor Kenneth Blackburne, after listening to the impassioned plea of Dr Roy and the applause that followed, declared that the British case had clearly won. The next day the assembly unanimously passed a resolution to keep the Cayman Islands as a British colony.”

He added that McTaggart is “already part of our cultural heritage with Dr Roy’s Drive, which was dedicated to his memory”.

The other national heroes – James (Jim) Manoah Bodden, Thomas William Farrington, Sybil Joyce Hylton, Ormond L. Panton, Desmond V. Watler, Mary Evelyn Wood and William Warren Connolly – were honoured by youth parliamentarians.

For the agricultural awards, the government presented 142 long-service certificates, with 109 names placed on the memorial scroll, and 38 in the pioneer and 19 in the early pioneer categories.

“Their labours of love are the reason we are here today to celebrate their achievements,” said Minister for Agriculture Kurt Tibbetts. “My personal appreciation of our farmers is well-known, and we still have many things to look forward to from this sector. I can only encourage our young people to follow in their footsteps – with what are sure to be equally rewarding results.”

Cayman News Service

The Scouts on parade

The parade and awards ceremony included contingents from various uniformed services and community organisations. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Band, the Cayman Islands Fire Service, the Prison Service, Cadet Corps, Girls’ Brigade, Scouts and Seventh Day Adventist Pathfinders marched through the streets to Heroes Square where the event was held.

Wreaths were laid in tribute to all of the Cayman Islands’ national heroes and nation builders, followed by a moment of silence. Pastor Robert James Arch, from Church of God Universal, said the prayer, while Rudy Myles and Lisa Scott, the great-granddaughter of Leila Ross-Shier, who wrote “Beloved Isle Cayman”, performed the national song.

Cayman Arts Festival Primary String Players, which comprises children from George Town and Savannah Primary Schools, provided entertainment at the event.

The agriculture theme continued after the ceremony, as attendees and guests sampled fare from local cooks at food stalls in the George Town Public Library car park, while being entertained by the JR Douglas Band and the Back Beat Band.

An agriculture display in the Town Hall will run until Friday, 29 January, featuring photos from the National Archives, farming artefacts, plants traditionally farmed in the Cayman Islands and a dedicated walk down memory lane, courtesy of the Bodden Town Heritage Committee.

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Category: Agriculture

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